NIC is an acronym for Network Interface Card. It is hardware that is inside the CPU, which allows the computer to connect to a network. It is a circuit board that is installed in a CPU without which you cannot connect your computer to a dedicated network. Almost every computer has a motherboard, and most of them have a built-in Network Interface Card. Some of these cards are for wired networks and others for wireless.
Types of Network Interface Card
Network Interface Card is generally of two types, and those are internal network card and internal network card. Let’s discuss further what these types are:
- Internal Network Card
An internal network card refers to the card which is inserted in the motherboard. The motherboard has a slot where this card can be added and cables are used to provide network access to the computer. The internal network card is further of two types: PCI (Peripheral Component Interconnect) and ISA (Industry Standard Architecture).
- External Network Card
External Network card is generally used in those desktops and laptops which doesn’t have in-built NIC in their motherboard. You can use either of the two types of external network card wireless or USB based. If you choose a wireless card, then you are required to insert it into the motherboard to have access to the network. You will not need any cable to connect to the network.
Purpose of using Network Interface Card
Earlier, computers were operated as stand-alone systems, and it wasn’t easy to connect them to other computers or networks. When people are required to transfer files between computers, then floppy-disk were used to transfer data. However, these floppy-disks used to carry only small bits of data at a time. Therefore, the emergence of another substitute was essential for making this process easier and faster. Thus, they came up with the Network interface card to let the computer become a part of the network.
How fast are network cards?
It depends on the type of NICs that on what speed they run. Usually, the Network interface card has a speed rating, including 11Mbps, 54mbps, and 100Mbps. The speed of the internet doesn’t determine the speed of the network card. It can differ because of the external factors like speed you are paying for and bandwidth. For instance, if you are paying 40 Mbps download speed, using a 100 Mbps network interface card will not help you in increasing your speed to 100Mbps, not even 1 unit more than the original speed. Nevertheless, if you are paying for 30 Mbps but your NIC supports only 11, then you will experience slower download speed because the installed hardware component doesn’t support the full speed.
Components of Network interface cards
Every NIC comprises of the following five components:
- Speed: Each NIC has a speed rating in terms of Mbps, just like internet speed that generally depicts the performance of the card. The variety of speed in which NIC is available includes 1Gbps, 1000 Mbps, 100Mbps, and 10Mbps. When connected to an ample network, it shows the speed. If the NIC speed is higher than the bandwidth of your internet connection, then your internet will run on the speed you are paying for. However, if it is lower than the bandwidth, then internet speed will fluctuate and will slow down to labeled speed.
- Driver: A driver is required between the NIC and computer’s operating system that will help in passing data among them. The driver is automatically downloaded once you connect a NIC to your computer. Driver updates itself using the internet to provide you an uninterrupted and optimal performance of NIC.
- Router: A router is generally used to allow communication between devices connected to the network and the computer. In the case of NIC, we connect a NIC connected device to the router, which is further connected to the internet.
- Mac address: It is also known as the physical network address that is unique and unchangeable for every computer connected to the internet. It is uniquely assigned to each NIC to deliver Ethernet packets to the computer.
- Connectivity LED: Mostly network interface card comes with a LED indicator. This indicator indicates when data ix`s being transmitted and when it is connected to the network.